SEEING IS BELIEVING
But here's how Fred describes it:
"THIS IS A LIFE CHANGER. What Simulscribe does is reroute your voice mails to their service which is a traditional voice mail service, with the exception that it TRANSCRIBES the voice mail and emails it to you along with the wav file so you can play the original voice mail."
This was the second review on the service I'd read by someone I respect, in a couple of weeks. David Pogue of the New York Times described the service as follows in that review:
Why is this a brilliant, life-changing development? Let us count the ways:"
David then goes on to give ten specific benefits of these types of services.
If all this "life-changing" stuff is starting to feel a bit familiar, think about someone else who's promising the big benefits of "voice-to-screen" technologies.
As an aside, don't you like "Visual Voicemail" more than "Voice-to-screen" as a description for the service? Again, leave it to Apple to figure out the right words to use.
So anyway, this is a feature that's well on it's way to being introduced to mainstream audiences in force over the next few months.
But to experience it today, one can sign up with either SimulScribe or SpinVox, who currently are the XM/Sirius of the space (not necessarily in that order). Both are trying to convert this "feature" into a hopefully robust business.
The service can get expensive, since both services charge per voicemail after a free trial period. It can add anywhere from $10 to $40 or more to your monthly bill. Both services will likely offer their services via your wireless carrier as an OEM provider in a few months.
In the meantime, I did sign up for SimulScribe today. And the anecdotal experience so far has been positive.
I had it up and running in 15 minutes. It was all automatic via email and typing in a special sequence of numbers on my Blackberry. And I didn't have to deal with a human being especially on the Verizon customer service side. Typing in a specific code activates or deactivates the service from your regular voicemail service with your wireless carrier. Pretty cool.
One piece of advice though that isn't made clear on the correspondence from SimulScribe. Make sure you've gone through all your existing voice-mails in your current service provider voice mail box, since the SimulScribe service obviously only starts to work on voice-mails going forward, NOT on unheard voice-mails already in your existing account.
Other than that, it's a pretty glitch-free experience. The voice translation has so far been pretty cool. The only hiccup was when I tested the service with the time-honored phrase "super-cali-fragilistic-expi-alidocious".
That came back as "Testing (garbled)".
I can live with that. After all, it does promise to change my life, right?
P.S. As an aside, while setting up a filter in my Google Gmail account titled "Voicemails" for my SimulScribe transcribed emails, I got a Gmail message that "system commands" cannot be used as filter tags.
Since Google doesn't offer any voicemail services that I'm aware of, I'm wondering if they're ear-marking the "Voicemail" tag for a similar and/or other voicemail related service down the road.
P.S.2 SimulScribe charges $0.25/voice-mail beyond the 40 voice-mails per month allowed in the $10/month plan. Currently, when a caller gets a SimulScribe subscribed phone voicemail, he/she hears a tag line that says something like "your message will be transcribed by SimulScribe.com".
As a subscriber, if you want to disable that tag, which after all is an ad for SimulScribe, you get a pop-up message that says your per message charge will GO UP by $0.05, or a nickel per call if you have the tag-line disabled.
Kind of makes you think what the value of all those free tag-lines millions of Blackberry subscribers have provided parent Resarch in Motion over the years.
You know, the ones that end every Blackberry-sent email with "Sent via my Blackberry" tag-line. At a nickel an email, that could have added up to some serious dollars over the last few years in free advertising for Blackberry.